The Chiefs have named a 26-man squad for their first pre-season match of 2019 against the Blues in Kaikohe this afternoon.
Headlining the side is one-match All Black Atu Moli, who returns to the team after a year-long injury lay-off due to a leg injury sustained in the Chiefs’ season-opening defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch last year.
Moli, who made his sole All Blacks appearance from off the bench against the French XV in Lyon at the end of 2017, was diagnosed with compartment syndrome and a haematoma by doctors after receiving a mysterious knock to his leg in that fixture, and has not been seen since.
However, after multiple surgeries and 12 months of recovery, Moli is back in Super Rugby contention, and will start at loosehead prop in today’s clash against the Blues.
He is apart of an inexperienced Chiefs starting side, which is without its All Blacks that toured to Europe and Japan in November last year.
There is still international experience evident within the squad, however, with one-test All Black Brad Weber starting at halfback, while three-test Japanese international Ataata Moeakiola will have his first taste of Super Rugby pre-season from the right wing.
They join former Rebels playmaker Jack Debreczeni and speedster Shaun Stevenson as the most experienced members of the backline.
Canada captain Tyler Ardron features on an extended reserves list, which also features exciting rookie Etene Nanai-Seturo.
The game, which kick-off at 3pm, will be played in two 40-minute halves, with water breaks at the 20-minute mark of each half.
Chiefs side to play the Blues in Kaikohe:
- Atu Moli
- Liam Polwart
- Sosefo Kautai
- Laghlan McWhannell
- Michael Allardice
- Pita Gus Sowakula
- Lachlan Boshier
- Taleni Seu
- Brad Webber
- Jack Debreczeni
- Tyler Campbell
- Orbyn Leger
- Tumua Manu
- Ataata Moeakiola
- Shaun Stevenson
Reserves: Samisoni Taukeiaho, Tevita Mafileo, Jeff Thwaites, Tyler Ardron, Mitchell Brown, Jack Stratton, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell, Ross Wright, Tupou Vaai, Sekope Moli, Mitchell Jacobson, Jesse Parete, Bailyn Sullivan, Malo Tuitama.
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